Off The Vine – A Dark’n Stormy Getaway

story by Tilar J. Mazzeo –

The winter doldrums are upon us, though La Niña has made them a bit less dolorous. Still, the entrance of JetBlue into the Vancouver market has opened up some tempting winter getaways, so we grabbed a non-stop flight to Boston and quick onward connection to Bermuda.
Bermuda in a nutshell? Pink beaches, turquoise sea, friendly locals, heady rum cocktails. Also: not inexpensive, not the Caribbean, and, thankfully, not over-touristed if you steer clear of the big resorts.

The big-resort tourism on the Island is puzzling. We rented a house with views of the sea in the historic village of St. George, a UNESCO heritage site, and hardly saw another visitor. Apparently, the other tourists were gorging themselves on beachfront buffets and commandeering golf carts somewhere behind gates and security cameras. Perfect!

The iconic drink of Bermuda is the Dark ‘n Stormy. Rum became the signature spirit of Bermuda when the Gosling family opened a distillery in the 1850s and began producing “Black Seal,” a favourite tipple of officers in the British Navy. Legend has it that the Dark ‘n Stormy – dark rum, lime and local ginger beer – gets its name after its resemblance to a forbidding storm cloud at sea. Goslings continues to produce rum more than 150 years later, with a flagship tasting room in Hamilton.

The “official” national drink of Bermuda, however, is the Swizzle, a blend of rum, pineapple and orange juice, “Bermuda Falernum” and a dash of bitters.

Bermuda Falernum? The origins of this syrup date back to the 1700s and Barbados. There are some commercial brands, but, if you want to try an authentic Bermudan Swizzle, it’s easy to concoct some. Toast a few tablespoons of slivered almond and add them to a 3/4 cup of rum along with the zest of a few limes (reserve the lime juice); a few tablespoons of peeled, chopped ginger; and a few tablespoons of whole spices – some mix of cloves, allspice, star anise, mace, or even peppercorn. Steep overnight then strain. From there the proportions for Falernum are one part lime juice, two parts simple syrup, three parts spiced rum and four parts water.

The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club is reputed to have the most timber-shiveringly authentic Swizzle, and members of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club will be pleased to know they have reciprocal cocktail privileges, making Bermuda the perfect winter out-station. If you’re not a blue-blazer mariner, it’s Bermuda’s oldest pub, the Swizzle Inn (, that you’ll want to head to.

Rum features in many of the Island’s signature dishes, ranging from the ubiquitous Bermuda Fish Stew to Bermuda Rum Cake. Gosling’s rum is readily available on Vancouver Island, and you can try your hand at Bermuda Fish Stew at home ( On Bermuda, the best places to try a Wahoo sandwich (local fish), conch chowder (sea snail), or curried mussels include Tom Moore’s Tavern ( or The Three Kings. Tom Moore’s Tavern is date-night dining in a circa 1652 heritage building. The Three Kings ( is Bermuda-fusion.

From Tom Moore’s it’s a short stroll from the celebrated Blue Hole swimming spot. A bit further along the path through a nature preserve is the Grotto Bay Resort, home of the underground sea-cave spa known as Prospero’s Cave ( Bermuda was the inspiration for The Tempest, and Shakespearean references abound on the island.

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